Āpastamba Dharmasūtra | 9



1. Marrying a Second Wife

12. So long as his wife participates in religious rites and bears children, a man may not take another wife.

13. If she is wanting in either of these, he may take another prior to establishing his sacred fires,

14. for a wife who participates in the ritual establishment of his sacred fires becomes associated with the rites to which the establishment of the sacred fires is only supplementary.

2. Marriage of Daughters

15. He shall not give his daughter in marriage to a man belonging to the same lineage as he, 16. or to a blood relation of her mother.

3. Types of Marriage

17. At a ‘Brahma’ marriage, he should enquire about the groom’s family, virtue, learning, and health; adorn the girl with jewellery to the best of his ability; and give her for bearing children, for companionship, and for carrying out rituals.

18. At a ‘Seer’s’ marriage, the bridegroom should give a bull and a cow to the bride’s father.

19. At a ‘Divine’ marriage, the father should give the girl in marriage to the officiating priest during the course of a sacrifice.

20. When a couple in love engages in sexual intercourse, it is a ‘Gandharva’ marriage.


1. When the groom gives a bride-price to the best of his ability and then marries the girl, it is a ‘Demonic’ marriage.

2. When a group of men violently overcomes the girl’s guardians and carries her away, it is a ‘Fiendish’ marriage.

3. Among these, the 3 enumerated first are the most excellent,
and each preceding one is better than the one that follows.

4. The excellence of the marriage determines the excellence of the children that issue from it.

4. Miscellaneous Rules and Penances

5. When a Brahmin has touched some place with his hand, no one should step on that spot without first sprinkling it with water.

6. Let him not pass between a fire and a Brahmin, 7. or between Brahmins; 8. he may optionally do so, but only after obtaining their permission.

9. He should not carry fire and water at the same time 10. and should refrain from mixing together different sorts of fires.

11. When a fire is being carried towards a person, he should not circumambulate it before it has been placed on the ground. 12. Let him not clasp his hand behind his back.

13. If the sun sets while a person is asleep, he should remain seated that night, without eating and observing silence. The next morning he should bathe and then break his silence.

14. If the sun rises while a person is asleep, he should remain standing that day, without eating and observing silence.

15. According to some, he should control his breath until he becomes exhausted; 16. he should do so also when he has seen a bad dream, 17. desires to accomplish some objective, 18. or has transgressed some other rule.

19. When he has a doubt whether the result of an action is evil or not, he should not do it; 20. the same is true when he has a doubt as to whether it is permitted or not to engage in Vedic recitation:

21. Let him not speak about doubtful matters as if they were clear.

22. - A man who is asleep when the sun sets or rises, or has bad nails or black teeth;

- a man who marries a younger sister while her older sister remains unmarried or an older sister whose younger sister is already married;

- a man whose younger brother has set up the ritual fires or performed the Soma sacrifice before him;

- a man whose younger brother gets married before him;
- and a man whose younger brother receives his portion of the estate before him
- or who receives his portion of the estate before his older brother –

- all these must perform the penances for sins that make a man sordid, each succeeding offender performing a more severe penance than the preceding.

23. According to some, after performing the required penance, he should get rid of the condition that necessitated it.


5. Sons

1. When a man has sexual intercourse with his wife during her season,

a wife who belongs to the same class as he and has not been married before, and whom he has married in the manner prescribed in the scriptures –

- sons born to him have a claim to follow the occupations of his class,
2. and neither parent may deprive such a son of his share in the estate.

3. It is a sin to engage in sexual intercourse with a woman

- who has been married before, or
- whom he has not married with the proper rites, or
- who belongs to a different class than he;

4. - and a son born from their union undoubtedly participates in their sin.

6. To Whom Belongs a Son

5. ‘A son belongs to the man who fathers him’ - so states a Brāhmaṇa.

6. Now, they also quote:

Only now, Janaka, have I become jealous about my wives; I was not so formerly.

When we are in the abode of Death, they say, a son belongs to the man who fathered him. After he dies, the man who deposited the seed takes the son to himself in the abode of Death.

People guard their wives, therefore, fearful of the seed of strangers.

Diligently guard this progeny of yours, lest strangers sow their seeds in your field; in the transit to the next world, a son belongs to the man who fathered him.

Otherwise a husband makes this progeny of his worthless for himself.

7. Law in Previous Times

7. Transgression of the Law and violence are seen among people of ancient times:

8. They incurred no sin on account of their extraordinary power.
9. A man of later times who, observing what they did, does the same, perishes.

10. The custom of donating or selling one’s children is not recognized as legitimate.

11. It is said in the Veda that at the time of marriage the groom should voluntarily give a gift to the bride’s father in order to fulfil the Law:

Therefore, the groom should give one hundred cows together with a chariot to the bride’s father. The latter should repudiate that gift.

The term ‘sale’ used in connection with this rite is only a figure of speech, for their union is brought about through the Law.

8. Inheritance

12. After gratifying the eldest with a choice portion of wealth,


1. he should, while he is still alive, divide his estate equally among his sons,
excluding those who are impotent, mad, or fallen from their caste.

2. If there are no sons, the closest relative belonging to the same ancestry as the deceased takes his inheritance.

3. If there are no relatives belonging to the same ancestry, his teacher or, if there is no teacher, his student should take the inheritance and use it to perform rituals for the benefit of the deceased.

4. Alternatively, the daughter 5. or, if none of these is available, the king should take the inheritance.

6. According to some, the eldest son inherits the entire estate.

7. In some regions gold, black cattle, and black produce of the earth belong to the eldest son.

8. The chariot and the household furniture belong to the father,
9. while the jewellery and the money given by her relatives belong to the mother, maintain others.

10. That is forbidden by the scriptures, 11. for in the Veda we find this statement, which makes no special allowance, ‘Manu divided his estate among his sons’.


12. But we also find in the Veda the statement that posits a single heir,
Therefore, they invest the eldest son with wealth’.


13. Experts in exegesis, however, maintain that such statements are not injunctions but only reiterate common facts, as in the examples:

‘Among domestic animals, therefore, goats and sheep range together’;
‘Therefore, the face of a bath-graduate appears to sparkle’; and
‘Therefore, a billy goat and a Vedic scholar display the greatest desire for a mate.’

14. The reason is that all sons who live righteously are entitled to inherit. 15. He should, on the contrary, disinherit a son who uses the wealth in unrighteous ways, even if he is the eldest.

16. There is no division of property between a husband and a wife,

17. because from the time of their marriage they are linked together in performing religious rites, 18. as also in receiving the rewards of their meritorious deeds 19. and in acquiring wealth;

20. for while the husband is away people do not consider it a theft for the wife to make a gift when the occasion demands.


9. Family and Regional Customs

1. The above principle resolves issues relating to customs of regions and families.

10. Observances at the Death of a Relative

2. Blood relations of the mother and relations of the father up to the 6th degree, or as far back as the relationship is known -

- when any of these dies, one should bathe, unless the deceased is a child less than one year old, 3. in which case only its parents 4. and those who carry the corpse need to bathe.

5. At the death of a wife or a principal elder, people should fast from the time of death until the same time the next day 6. and display the signs of mourning:

7. the mourners should dishevel and throw dust on their hair, wear a single garment, face the south, submerge themselves once in the water, come out of the water, and sit down. 8. They should repeat this 3 times.

9. They should pour out water in such a way that the deceased recognizes it, then return to the village without looking back, and do whatever else the women ask them to do.

10. Some prescribe these same observances also at the death of other relatives.

11. Ritual Food Offerings

11. At all rituals one should feed individuals who are upright and learned in the Vedas.

12. He should offer gifts in proper places, at appropriate times, on the occasion of purificatory rites, and to proper recipients.

13. He should not eat food from which a portion has not been first offered in the fire or given to a guest. 14. Food containing spices or salt cannot be used for a burnt offering, 15. as also when it is mixed with some other inferior food.

16. When he offers a burnt offering of food unfit to be offered, he should take out some hot ashes from the northern side of the fire and offer it in those ashes. In this way the offering takes place, but it is not offered in the fire.

17. A woman should not make an offering in the fire, 18. nor should a man who has not been initiated.

12. Impurity of Children

19. Children do not become impure until the first feeding with solid food has taken place; 20. according to some, until they have completed 1 year; 21. or until they are able to distinguish the cardinal points;

22. or until they have undergone initiation, which is the superior position, 23. for it is through this that they come under the jurisdiction of the scriptures.

24. This last view is the authoritative one, 25. and it is the traditional teaching.